With the speed that we were able to make we arrived nicely on time at the Tampa pilot station. The speed even improved over the past days, so that was good news and gives hope for tomorrow. When sailing in, Tampa Bay showed itself from it best side by being nearly windless. You do not want to have completely windstill weather, otherwise there is a chance that the fog comes down but not too much wind either to make the docking unpleasant. This time the Sunshine Skyway Bridge was completely in the dark. So either there is still maintenance going on or they are saving on the electricity bill. We do not need any lights to go under it, we have two green lights that add as the mid-channel markers but it looks nice to see both pylons lit up. Especially on the way out when all the guests are still awake.
Today they will work all day on the shaft issue again to see if we can put more power on the sb shaft. It is all fine until we go above speeds of 15 knots. That is why I can maneuver safely as everything is working. Letâ€™s hope for the best. I can do most of the cruise on lower speeds but I need more than that to get to San Juan.
As we are going on a 14 day cruise it is heavy storing, with several gangs of longshoremen working over three ships side breaks, to deal with the luggage, provisions, spare parts and matrasses. We finished the crew mattress exchange and we are now starting on the Officers cabins. These are most double beds and the old ones coming out will go to the Red Cross in Dominica, where we are calling during our coming cruise. Another 100 going for good causes.
For me the Tampa afternoon is mainly taken up by keeping an eye on all the operations that are going on, time wise. Will the longshoremen be finished on time, will the bunker barge be ready and will all the guests be in on time. And if not; can I afford to wait or do I have to sail. Lately all the guests who fly in, have been on time, as HAL has brought the flight arrival times forward so that there is at least 1.5 hours between touch down and the ships departure. So mostly here in Tampa, everybody is on board around 4 pm. I expect that this will change when the winter hits the country and the planes are getting delayed. Then it gets difficult as I will have to balance the service to the guests who are late and the need of the guests ready on board to start the cruise.
Pilots and Port Control always want two hours notice, so they can plan the ship into their schedules and HAL shore operations can not always confirm how much time a plane will be delayed in coming in. If we know, then we have cabâ€™s standing at the airport ready with roaring engines and extra help to run with the luggage. We even have put fully mobile people in wheelchairs and raced them through the terminal as that was faster as letting them walk. I think the record from Tampa airport taxi stand to the ships gangway is currently standing at 17 minutes of what normally takes 30 to 40 minutes.
You might think that 5 or 10 minutes is not much on a two day sailing and yes it is not. But if Tampa Port Control decides after those 5 minutes to let a tug with barge depart or dock then I will be delayed for at least 45 minutes until the fairway opens up again. So I have to cast off at the time I promised; if at all possible.
This time we made it with room to spare. 1700 hrs. is the departure time, 16.55 we were off the dock and going through Tampa Bay was fast as was safely possible. By 20.15 the pilot was off and I could start cranking up the speed. Now we have to wait and see what the nights brings in regards to speed achieved